BC Comfort Insights Newsletter January 2018

In this month's newsletter, we share some insights on why mechanical design build works, along with five ways to improve construction efficiency in 2018, and how new  sensors are being used to reduce energy used for HVAC systems. 
Why Mechanical Design Build Works
We recently were asked to look at a new project – a mixed used residential tower in Vancouver.  The project was originally tendered with the mechanical cost grossly over the original budgeted amount.  After reviewing the drawings, we were able to find one million dollars in savings, while still meeting Vancouver’s onerous LEED rezoning and ASHRAE 90.1 requirements.
An over-budget mechanical system seems to be a common issue on bid-spec projects.  Projects tend to be over designed and the systems selected, while technically compliant, simply are not cost effective. 

Why does this happen repeatedly on bid-spec projects mechanically?  What is the difference for design-build projects?  Why is there such a disconnect between the design and costing?

The problem with bid-spec projects is that there is no motivation for the designer to focus on cost.  Instead, the focus is on meeting the performance requirements, using a tried and true engineering system, and mitigating design risk.  Cost is generally not considered until the actual tender and generally done by a third party such as a contractor or a cost consultant.
The result is cost over-runs and schedule delays.  Because there is no accurate costing done initially, tender pricing usually is a surprise.  Schedule delays often occur because redesign needs to be completed for cost savings.
In contrast, design-build projects consider both performance requirements and cost at the same time.  The designer is now motivated to consider both items from the beginning, not at tender, when the design is 75 percent complete.  There is a collaborative approach to working out the most cost effective solution that still meets the performance requirements. 

Unique to the mechanical industry is the large variation of mechanical systems.  This is a strength of mechanical design build because there can multiple solutions to the same set of requirements, with certain systems being more cost effective depending on the requirements. 
Going forward, there are a number of developments that will benefit the mechanical design-build delivery method.  The recent introduction of the BC Energy Step Code and the City of Vancouver’s new rezoning requirements are changing energy code requirements from prescriptive to performance based. 

In other words, instead of specifying the desired type of mechanical system, the new codes set a desired energy intensity per square foot.  This gives maximum flexibility for the designer and contractor to select the most cost-effective solution that still meets the requirements.


Going back to the originally mentioned project, we are on-track to take over the design and construction in the next few months.  We are confident that this transition from bid/spec to design/build will lead to on-budget, on-time delivery with a single point of responsibility mechanically.  Is your next project going to deliver similarly? 
Henry Leung and Jim Gallacher from BC Comfort will be speaking on this topic in more detail at BUILDEX Vancouver on February 15, 2017.  If you are interested in attending, please contact BC Comfort at 604-439-3344. 

More information on the session can be found on the BUILDEX website

Industry Insights 

Using Sensors To Reduce Energy Used for HVAC Systems

Engineering researchers at The University of Alabama are developing testing standards and control strategies for sensors used to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, in commercial and residential buildings. 

The goal is to provide a way for those who manage HVAC systems to know sensors work efficiently when detecting human movement and occupancy to control heating, cooling and ventilation.

Click here to read more


Feature Project

BC Comfort recently completed Reach’s new head office located in Ladner, B.C.  This design-build project consists of 21,000 SF of community rooms, daycare, offices, and meeting rooms.  

Image Sources:

The project was completed design-build and mechanical systems consist of high-efficiency roof top units and DX Split systems.  There is a full commercial kitchen in the facility complete with NFPA Kitchen exhaust and grease interceptor.

Click here to read a recent news release. 
Leave a Review
Visit Our Website
We'd Love Your Input
We encourage you to provide feedback on related topics, articles, or advice you’d like us to write about. You can send us a note by clicking here

Copyright © 2018 BC Comfort Air Conditioning Limited, All rights reserved.

Contact Us Today: 

(604) 439-3344

Our hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

Our mailing address is:

BC Comfort Air Conditioning Limited

7405 Lowland Drive

Burnaby, BC V5J 5A8



You can also contact us by email:



Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.